Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined me on today’s show:
HH: On Sunday, I’ll be in Des Moines, Iowa with This Week on ABC. I wonder if I’ll run into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who joins me now. Governor Walker, you going to be in Iowa this weekend at the fair?
SW: I’m going to be there on Monday up on the soapbox talking to voters.
HH: Well, then, perhaps we’ll pass in the airport. Governor, it’s great to have you back. I want to start with the big…
SW: We’ll tag of something deep fried from the fair, I’m sure.
HH: The Fetching Mrs. Hewitt will not allow me to do that. But let me ask you about the biggest story of the day. Three million gallons of heavy metal-filled waste water dumped by EPA into the Animas River, it’s going to make it to the San Juan River in New Mexico, 12,000 times the normal lead level there. This is a disaster not only for the 45,000 people who live in the nearby town, but for the entire ecosystem. And the EPA has basically gone to ground. Now BP after Deepwater Horizon was a hundred times more transparent than the federal government is here. What’s your reaction?
SW: Well, this is, sadly, this is the problem you have not only with the EPA, but with this administration. I mean, no accountability, we don’t see it here, we haven’t seen it with the IRS, we haven’t seen it with the problems in the NSA, we haven’t seen it with the VA. This is part of a pattern where they don’t hold people accountable. Like you said, if this had happened to any other business, they would have a boot on their neck so strong, it would be unbelievable. It’s why my belief is, on this and a whole bunch of other areas, but with the EPA, we should send the powers to enforce the laws back to the states where people who actually live there have to live with not only the consequences of bad decisions like this, but also with making sure we balance good decisions that balance both the need to protect, legitimately protect our natural resources with the need to have a thriving economy. We don’t get that under this administration nor the EPA.
HH: Governor Walker, the EPA administrator for that region is a guy named Sean McGrath. He’s another Obama crony. He was in the White House from day one, or actually January of 2009, then he went over to EPA. He was the mayor of liberal Boulder before this. I think they’re incompetence is so endemic, Katherine Archuleta, who ran OPM and let all the files get pilfered…
HH: How deep does the incompetence run with this gang?
SW: Well, you just see their instinct to put political folks in. Now thank God they didn’t screw it up, but remember after the Ebola outbreak in the western part of Africa, who did they put in charge of that? Not someone with a medical degree, but another political person. This is their instinct. This is, this is the reason, it’s not just they have bad ideas, which they have plenty of, it’s the fact that this White House is driven by the political shop in the White House, by Valerie Jarrett and the others there instead of making sound policy decisions. And it’s precisely why I would argue why you want to put an executive in like a governor as the next president, not just a Republican, not just a different president, but put someone who’s actually proven with executive experience, because as governors, we know you actually have to listen to people who can get the policy done, not just the politics, but the appropriate policy. It’s also why, as I mentioned with the EPA, but I see so many areas. We’ve got to take power and money out of Washington and send it back to the states and back to local governments so that people are, not only is it more effective and more efficient, but so ultimately people can be held accountable.
HH: I know you’ve dealt with a bunch of crises in Wisconsin over the past five years. But anything like this EPA spill? And if so, what did you do in that situation, because I know Hickenlooper is a pal of yours, even though he’s a Democrat. I’ve heard you say that before. I feel sorry for him. This is going to be extremely destructive of the Colorado economy and the health of Coloradans.
SW: I totally agree with you. I was born in Colorado Springs. I have a great love for that state. John Hickenlooper and I get along on a lot of things, not obviously everything, but he is, and as for that, well, another friend of mind, Susanna Martinez in New Mexico, have some huge problems. We came in, one of the most important things I learned is when you have a natural disaster, you’ve got to be there. You’ve got to be on presence. We had nothing near this level, but we had about 130,000 acres of wind blow a couple of years ago that knocked down major portions of our forests in the northwestern part of Wisconsin. And I just physically went up there not just with my state agencies, but with all the local officials, with the private logging companies, with individuals from those communities, and we just on site worked out a plan and got things done. Thankfully, if you do it well, you’ve got a lot of things you prepare for. But who would have thought the EPA, the agency that’s charged with protecting the environment, would be the culprit? It’s all the more reason why we’ve got to take enforcement and send those responsibilities back to the states where they’re more accountable.
HH: Do you think Mrs. Clinton would be any better at this than President Obama, whose administrator of the EPA just showed up yesterday? Gina McCarthy just showed up a week afterwards. I’m sure you were on the scene of your disaster a lot sooner than a week later. But do you think Hillary Clinton would be any better?
SW: Well, immediately, I and my team, the people involved with our equivalent, what’s called the Department of Natural Resources, were there the very next day. That’s what you do when you have situations like this. You stop anything else on your calendar, and you get right into the thick of it and you make sure you’re not disruptive of action, but you get right there. I think on this and a whole bunch of other issues, Hillary Clinton arguably would be worse. You see it in this latest series of things about the emails. For her, I think it’s pretty clear the reason why she had this was so they could operate in the way just as political as you see under the current Obama White House. And that would be a huge problem for the American people. Hillary Clinton, I think, would be a worse president for America than Barack Obama is, and that’s a pretty low bar.
HH: Now Governor Walker, I said on Meet The Press this past weekend you had a very good debate, because you put the first harpoon publicly into Hillary’s server, and it got worse this week. There’s a piece over at the Daily Beast today by intelligence professional John Schindler. They have found secret SI, TK and NOFORN classifications on her emails. SI means special intelligence.
HH: That’s part of sensitive compartmented information. TK means talent keyhole. NOFORN means no foreign, I went back and forth with Schindler today. If a military guy had done this at the Pentagon, it would be, the career would be over and court-martials would be ahead. Other people would go to jail. You’re absolutely right. This was a major intelligence breach. I’m not sure you had enough time in the last debate to make your entire point, but at least you got it out there.
SW: Well, and that’s why I said let’s spend our time talking about Hillary Clinton, not about these other Republicans out there. I joked about it, I wish it wasn’t so funny. When they asked me about Russia, you’re right, I pointed out that sadly, the Russian and Chinese governments probably know more about Hillary Clinton’s email servers than do the members of the United States Congress. And it’s increasingly clear that that very much had likely, has put our national security at risk. She told us there wasn’t sensitive information and there was. She told us there wasn’t classified information, and there was. Now, we see through not some political force or somebody else’s campaign, but through the intelligence community’s own inspector general that there was top secret information there. I said it’s only one of two things, and both of them begin with I. It’s either illegal or it’s incompetent, and either she violated the law by knowingly transferring top secret information in a way that could be accessible to foreign interests, or she went down the path of not knowing what was really top secret, and that would make her incompetent. Now she has said publicly that she, in fact, in a way of response to a reporter’s question, it was kind of condescending, or not kinda, it was condescending that she knew full well what top secret information was, and she didn’t transmit any of that. Well, that’s not what the inspector general is saying, and I think this is one of those where you cannot trust her on this. We cannot trust her. She would be a good deceiver-in-chief, but America cannot trust her to be the commander-in-chief.
HH: Now Governor Walker, you yourself, and members of your team, have been the object of a witch hunt. So I am very, very aware that we don’t want prosecutors running around abusing their office and their privileges. The Wisconsin Supreme Court and the federal courts put an end to that attempt to politicize your tenure as a successful governor of Wisconsin. But here, we have an obvious parallel with David Petraeus, who had to plead guilty, two years’ probation, $100,000 dollar fine. The same sort of criminal penalties applied to former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, former CIA director John Deutsch. Do you have any confidence in this Department of Justice actually looking at this as it ought to be, which is as a criminal matter?
SW: I sadly wish I did, but I do not, although again, I think this intelligence communities’ inspector general is hard to look the other way on. They have made it abundantly clear, and I think even if the Justice Department doesn’t act, I think the American people are onto this. I think the American people, not just Republicans, not just people who listen to talk radio or watch Fox News or read certain blogs, but I think every day Americans, whether they pay attention to the sources I mentioned or not, are getting the drift that Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted, and that I think increasingly, in more and more people’s minds, she’s showing herself to be disqualified from being competent and having enough integrity to be the president of the United States.
HH: One of your competitors, John Kasich, was on the program earlier this week. He was reluctant to begin the focus on Hillary Clinton. I am not, and I pressed him on that. What do you think? Is it too early for Republicans to be turning their attention at the former Secretary of State?
SW: No, it’s why the other night when the panelists were trying to get us each to beat up on each other, I said my opponent’s not on this stage. And that’s why I chimed in when they asked one of them a question about his donations to Hillary Clinton. And I said can we actually talk about her, because everywhere in the world Hillary Clinton has touched is more messed up today than before she and the President took office. I think we absolutely need to do that. And I think the more chatter there is amongst fights between one Republican candidate and the other, the less time and attention is focused on just how bad things are with Hillary Clinton. Now I’m going to be for things, too, so I’m hoping that part of the focus on Hillary Clinton is to not only point out what’s wrong with her, but how much better we can do things going forward. But we’re ill-served if we spend all of our time beating up on fellow Republicans.
HH: Let me turn, then, to a clip of a speech that former Governor Bush gave at the Reagan Library a couple of nights ago, in which he took dead aim at Hillary Clinton and Iraq, and here’s what he said.
JB: ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat. And where was the Secretary of State? Where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the President himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and Allied forces was thrown away. In all of her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once.
HH: And so he went on to just blast her. Do you agree with his critique that the peace was lost by Obama-Clinton in Iraq, Governor Walker?
SW: Oh, I’ve said for months, for months now, in fact, I remember coming back from Israel and was asked about the question of Iraq. And I said the real question wasn’t knowing what you know today. The real question was for Hillary Clinton to say that she and the President were informed by military experts that the type of withdrawal they were talking about in Iraq would create a vacuum, and that that vacuum would largely be filled by radical Islamic terrorists like ISIS. They knew that then. We know see it happening today. The real point of contention all along, and again, I said this many months ago, was that the real fault was not about what happened at the beginning of the time going into Iraq in terms of whether people were right or not. That was an intelligence issue. The fact of the matter is we know today what we knew back then, and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama still made the wrong decision. To me, that’s the real issue here. Again, it goes back to my point. Everywhere in the world that Hillary Clinton has touched is more messed up today than before she and the President took office. We need to have leadership again that stands up, and instead of leading from behind puts America out front, not to be the world’s policeman, not to be nation building, but to stand up and lead particularly when our national security interests are at risk. That’s exactly what I’ll do going forward.
HH: Now yesterday on this program, Donald Trump also said we can’t be the world’s policeman, so I’ll ask you the same thing I asked him. If not us, who is? And what do you mean by that, Governor Walker?
SW: Well, I think it’s a difference. To me, I mean, I look at, I mean, think about years ago. Another thing that Obama and Clinton messed up? Libya. Libya was not a national security risk to us. In fact, we were actually fairly successful in getting the leadership there to back away from their illicit nuclear capacity. But because of the failure to act when there was opening, that has now become, sadly, a place of safe haven for terrorist activities. To me, we should only engage military force when our national security interests are at risk. That, to me, is a simple criteria – obviously, protecting the homeland, secondly, along with that, it means going out and going after terrorists wherever they might be so that we take the fight to them instead of wait until they bring the fight to us. It means standing with our allies, particularly countries like Israel. There should be no daylight between us and Israel. And the fourth component I would add would be that we need to protect places where Americans trade or travel. There will be other instances in which American leadership is required, but it doesn’t require a military force. It can be diplomatic, economic, humanitarian actions that we could take. Our military force should be limited to when our national security interests are at risk. And once we invoke that, we should have a president who makes it clear to our men and women in uniform that they have the commander-in-chief’s full support, and that of the American people, for total and absolute victory. We don’t have that under this administration, nor do I believe we would have it under Hillary Clinton. That will be the sharpest contrast if I was president.
HH: Two last questions, Governor Walker. China is conducting live fire drills in the South China Sea near disputed islands that John Kerry said last week the Chinese should stay away from, an obvious show of disrespect to John Kerry. How do we get the respect of people back like the PRC after seven and eight years of complete incompetence and fecklessness?
SW: This all ties together. This is all part of the pattern. People think what happens in the Middle East, or what happens in Ukraine is not related to what’s happening now in the South China Sea. I believe it is all tied together. The rest of the world looks. I remember earlier this year, I met with a number of leaders from the Persian Gulf states and asked them aside from their concerns about Iran, what’s the number one threat in the world. You know what they said to me? The disengagement of America, the disengagement of America. And so we need to lead. We need to terminate the bad deal with Iran. We need to lift the political restrictions on our military already in Iraq to help the Kurd and Sunni allies to reclaim that territory taken by ISIS, and to make sure that in doing so, they don’t drive them into a safe haven in Syria. We need to push back and send in lethal force, direct assistance to the Ukrainian people. We need to stand up and make work with NATO to make sure the Baltics and Poland are preserved, and that we restore the missile defense system. Doing all those things in combination with being aggressive not just on what’s happening in the South China Sea with their advances in international waters, but even being clear and forceful with the Chinese government when it comes to cyberattacks, and even with speaking out about their abysmal human rights record, all those things are tied together. It’s all about American leadership.
HH: And a last question, it’s political, Governor Scott Walker. Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, no denying they’ve had momentum in the polls over the last week and in the last month. A lot of people say this is anger not just at Washington now, but spreading to anyone who’s ever held office anywhere at any time. How do you tap into that anger at D.C., but keep it away from an incumbent governor in Wisconsin?
SW: Yeah, well, I think it’s a legitimate concern out there, and you explain it exactly right, the way I hear it out there. They’re so upset. They say hey, Republicans have the House, they added the Senate. They still haven’t stopped, it took governors going out and stopping the actions of the President’s executive action on illegal immigration. They haven’t repealed Obamacare. The Iran deal appears to be going forward. There’s just a lot of frustration, and I think you’re right. They’re going to the candidates the most removed, and that’s why you see people who have never held office surging in the polls. For us, it’s a steady process between now and the early votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and elsewhere. And it’s making the case that if you want to be more than just upset about this, you want to be more than just outraged, if you want someone who will fight and win, not just win elections, but who will fight and win, actually get real results and do it without compromising our conservative principles, I’m your candidate. The others are good, decent people. They speak out and raise many legitimate concerns. But in the end, if you want someone who can do all that, I’m the only candidate who’s shown the proven track record. One of my favorite tweets came from someone in Iowa earlier this year who said I like Scott Walker because he wins without caving. I think now, more than ever, people want elected officials who are going to come in, clean up the mess in Washington, take on the establishment, not just take on Democrats, take on the status quo defenders in our own party. That’s what we did in Wisconsin. If we could do it in a blue state like Wisconsin, it’s not too late for America.
HH: Scott Walker, great to talk to you again, Governor, I look forward to talking to you again between now and the Reagan Library debate. Thanks very much.
SW: Thanks, Hugh.
End of interview.